Earth Mother labored hard over the summer months to provide abundance for our harvest in the fall.
Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, marks the second harvest of three as days begin to shorten and darkness promises to return.
Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere generally falls between the 21-24 of September, and it is welcomed in a variety of ways across the world.
Mostly this time of year is associated with changing leaves, cooler temperatures, bonfires, and lots of food for feasting. It is a time for celebration to reap from the seeds we have sown.
Autumn offers unique cultural, mythological, and symbolic traditions celebrated across space, time, and nature.
Persephone & Demeter -Greek Mythology
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of Agriculture, and Zeus. Persephone was lovingly known as the Goddess of Spring. Spring is a time to honor the maiden and sow the seeds of intention.
There are various versions of herstory, and a condensed version explains that Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, God of the Underworld and brother to Zeus. He tricked her into eating pomegranate, thus capturing her to remain in the underworld.
The pomegranate, also known as the fruit of death, symbolizes that Hades took her virginity, turned her into a woman, and introduced her to the darkness within. Thus Persephone became known not only as the Goddess of Spring, but also the Queen of the Underworld.
Distraught, Demeter went to Zeus asking him to demand that Hades return her daughter. A deal was struck: Persephone would spend six months Earth-side, and six months ruling from the shadow.
When mother and daughter are separated in the fall, Demeter in her sadness and sorrow, walks the Earth leaving a trail of barrenness, coldness, and darkness as she mourns the loss of her daughter.
Harvest, historically, is a communal effort and a time for celebration with feast and gathering. Before the celebration begins, there is much work to be done.
Tasks vary, but most important is tending to the land, harvesting crops and preparing animals and elders for the long, cold nights ahead.
Celebration offers a time of reflection… for the hard work of summer… of abundance and bounty… being grateful for the sunlight… and respecting the impending darkness as we move into late fall and early winter.
Stillness and barrenness will cover the land; Earth is changing and preparing for the first cold days of winter, hibernation and rest before the rebirth of Spring.
Earth Mother is carrying in her womb, the child of the next growing season.
Like Earth Mother, we take this time for hibernation. It is a beautiful opportunity to slow down, eat heartily, keep warm and reflect. Introspection is a great tool to guide us through our inner darkness as we absorb the darkness of the season.
Shadow Work -Embracing Inner Darkness
As Earth Mother begins preparation to enter her slumber in winter, we too dive into our shadow/dark selves, finding introspection, rest, reflection, stillness.
Throughout the ages, many myths and stories have been devised and told to explain the dark shadow of our unconscious. There are a variety of deities that represent the Dark Goddess, from the story of Persephone and Demeter to Goddess Kali of Hinduism, and they all share one common attribute: an honoring of the dark-side of our being, the unknown within.
Dr. Carl Jung, psychoanalyst, studied the unconscious at great length, and what he uncovered and brought into the light, was the need to connect to, honor, and embrace the darkness as part of our whole. When we honor this part of ourselves, we unveil our intuitive subconscious, which is a fraction of who we are that we keep hidden. This transformation accesses untamed energies, inviting us to honor the retreat further into the self and into balance, seeking harmony within.
Ceremony & Ritual: Mabon
There are as many practices to honor and embrace our shadow-selves as there are deities that symbolize that part of our consciousness. During harvest season and as we move into the darker days and longer nights of winter; we can incorporate myriad practices to honor the season, ourselves, and the connection between.
Individually we prepare for our internal harvest. We clean our homes to release what no longer serves; purge by removing unused items for donation; and shed energetic layers as we begin to settle into our yearly hibernation of introspection. Mabon marks a good beginning to journaling practices.
Collectively, Mabon is a celebration of harvest, of abundance, and ultimately the connection to the impending darkness that will surround Earth Mother and our own psyches. In community we are encouraged to engage in activities that include offerings from the land and decor that resembles the foods, colors, and duality of Autumn and the coming months of darkness. Many celebrate with bonfires, feasts, and gatherings to remember the labor of summer and to find the stillness afterward.
In ceremony, Mabon has been practiced with altar set-ups, smoke cleansing, intention-setting practices, feasts, and festivals – honoring all that has come into fruition and of that which we let go.
Shift of Weather
Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, invites us each year to reap all that has been sown, energetically and agriculturally; and to honor and embrace the repressed, by bringing the light into the unconscious as we also encourage more light into our homes during the dark winter.
We begin to shine light on the recesses of the subconscious so we are able to choose how we will be born again in the Spring. Just as the animal world hibernates (slows down), our world falls into darkness so that we may also thrive during the months of light.
No matter how you choose to honor yourself at this time of year, there are ample pathways and possibilities to harvest all the seeds that have been sown throughout the year, and prepare for the impending hibernation and introspection that follows the light.
For a deeper dive into how to celebrate Mabon individually or in community look for a special Autumn Retreat in Indianapolis.
Join the upcoming Soul Sister Harvest Retreat in September (11-12) 2021